Honeybee Gene Resistant to Mites

Honeybee Gene Resistant to Mites

Honeybee Gene Resistant to Mites. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Fruit Grower Report.

We have not heard a lot about the bee problem lately but that does not mean it has gone away or that no one is working on it. Quite the contrary. USDA researchers hope to build upon existing discoveries that honeybees have a genetic resistance against a recently introduced threat, varroa mites.

DANKA: They showed up in the United States in 1987 and back about that time we found very quickly that these mites if left unchecked would kill these colonies typically within 2 years or so after the bees became infested.

That’s USDA honeybee researcher Bob Danka who says they have discovered some honeybees with a genetic trait called varroa sensitive hygiene. Danka and his team are working to expand that trait.

DANKA: We think that the more closely we define what the bees are doing, the better we’ll be able to select for the trait in bees. We are doing selection, we maintain the bees for research, we are also trying to find ways that bee breeders, queen breeders, can effectively find the trait in their own bees.

Danka discusses what this trait does in the bees.

DANKA: About 4 years ago it was discovered that it was actually not a factor of the brood of the bees but rather that the adult bees are finding broods that are dusted with mites and removing those pupae or larvae out of the brood nest and at least disrupting the reproduction of the mites if not eliminating the mites altogether.

That’s today’s Fruit Grower Report. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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